ARTHUR "Big Boy"









Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup was born on August 24, 1905 in Forest, near Clarksdale, Mississippi. He began his career in music as a singer in church choirs, and it is for his singing, rather than his guitar playing that he is best remembered.  He began playing the blues at picnics and parties in Clarksdale but in his early 30's he moved to Chicago in the hopes of making a better living. He played the street corners but earned very little and at one time it is said that he was living in a packing case under an elevated train track until found by blues producer Lester Melrose. Crudup was hired to play at a party at Tampa Red's house in 1941, and as a result, was signed to record for RCA/Bluebird. Crudup and Melrose eventually fell out over an argument about royalties and Crudup moved back to Mississippi, becoming a successful bootlegger.

He continued to record with RCA into the late 1940's and 50's, and he also toured with Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) and Elmore James. He is however perhaps best known for some of the songs he wrote which were covered by other artists. It is said that he became Elvis Presley's favourite blues artist after Presley saw him perform on Beale Street in the early 1950's. Three of Crudup's songs were recorded by Elvis, the best known is probably "That's All Right, Mama," which was Presley's first recording in 1954. He also wrote other blues classics which were covered by artists such as B. B. King, Big Mama Thornton and Bobby "Blue" Bland. Much of Crudup's later years were marred by arguments he had with record companies over monies he claimed were due to him. At one point he virtually quit the music business, becoming a labourer, but was persuaded to return. He toured England in 1969 and Australia in 1972 and played in blues revival concerts such as the Newport Jazz Festival. Crudup continued performing until his death in Nassawadox, Virginia in 1974 aged 68.